Edward Steichen, the Conde Nash years 1923-1937

Seine river

Paris, Seine river

when mary and i first visited Paris we were very lucky except for the grey sky’s most everyday, after all  it was at the end of October a bit chilly and who cared it was Paris and we were together. the streets seeped with history and the museums budged with art and cafes everywhere with fresh baked croissants.

we rented an apartment through Craigs List and sight unseen were located on the right bank two blocks from the Louvre, somewhere around the Rue du Roule talk about luck and location whoo. by the way Paris has a great jazz radio station with even a feed from WBGO here in Newark NJ. the apartment was small but clean with a kitchenette and a double bed.

but not everyday was gloomy there were some lovely days and being with my honey made up for any rainy days

Seine river with Eiffel tower

Museum passes in hand we headed out into the great city of lights to see what we could discover. no we didn’t do the Louvre first as we wanted to be outside enjoying Paris. we walked around a lot since we were in the middle of everything. mary was taking a photography class back in NJ so she had homework assignments, not a bad place to do your homework.

but this isn’t about Paris yet connected in every way in my mind. we discovered the photographic exhibit called Edward Steichen In High Fashion, The Conde Nash Years at the Jeu de Paume Museum, organized by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Minneapolis and The Musee de L’Elysee,Lausanne.  We never had a clue it would be there nor did we know too much about Steichen’s work.

the photography  exhibit blew me away and how much of it that was on display wow. the portrait of Gloria Swanson 1924 has to be seen in person it’s just amazing. all of the prints were wonderfully done as one would expect from an artist such as Steichen even though he’s long gone. along with all the prints there was a movie interview with him in his studio which i fell in love with because it showed all his lighting equipment and he sat next to a huge camera sort of a Steichen at work type of thing. the floor was covered with big black wires powering the plato convex spotlights, floods etc of that period.

At the end of the exhibit comes the book store and trinket shop. i picked up the accompanying book and wanted to buy it right away but alas i am just a dumb american who can’t read French, besides it’s a pretty big book to lug around europe. Steichen worked in B&W photography which is pretty amazing in it’s own right. What he did with his limited space and flats is pretty amazing.

so i am in a book buying binge now and i ordered one from amazon having just finished it this week. i must say it to is a wonderful book especially for people who never had an opportunity to see the traveling exhibit which has long gone into retirement. i wish i had been able to read the book and then see the exhibit again. i think would have gotten more out of the exhibit at the time but one can’t, at least i haven’t found a way to time travel yet.

i recommend this book to anyone who has a love of B&W photography or fashion history, it’s a real treasure.

some say artist working in commercial endeavors looses touch with the art. we all got to eat and would like other people to enjoy our work, i always feel that i am sending my children to a foster home when someone buys a picture. Steichen had this to say  in a letter to

Mrs Chase;

“in connection with our idea about dignified and distinguished presentation of ‘Beauty’ pictures if they can be done in Duotone they will be greatly enhanced. there are some works of art in the Louvre that if presented in a peep show would be condemned s pornographic. in the Louvre they are art – make Vogue a Louvre.”

don’t we all just want to be loved for what we do? i’ve fallen in love here with a master of B&W photography and this book shows why he’s considered such.

this is the next place i want to stay in Paris or maybe Amsterdam

house boats




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